Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Got Roses? Get Your Jam On!

   When we bought our house in Sonoma, one of the biggest attractions for us was the extensive gardens. The woman we bought the house from had cultivated her garden for 30 years with a proliferation of roses, columbine, Asian poppies, iris....you name it we have it. She also had a water thrifty drip irrigation system. We furthered that by hooking up the rain machine which runs our watering system via wifi connected to  NOAA. The less water use the better. We took out the lawns in front and xeriscaped with drought tolerant plants. In the back yard we removed all lawn and put in 7 large raised growing beds  and several fruit trees which allowed us to get a large amount of what we eat straight from home. This year thanks to El Nino and all the rain we've had here in Sonoma, our garden is bursting at the seams.

Our roses are exploding with color and scent which is a big part of the recipe.

   You need to get your mitts on some strongly scented red roses or dark pink roses, so sniff around and see what you've got. We use only organic and natural products in our gardens, and the reason that that is important to this recipe is that organically grown roses are necessary for this jam. So if you don't have any organic roses in your garden, find a friend who does and share this around. It's probably the easiest jam or jelly I've ever made and I've been canning for about 25 plus years. In fact this might be a great fun family project for little hands, as long as big hands are running the stove.

Rose Petal Jam


Here's What You Need: 
8 cups of organic heavily scented red or deep pink rose petals, loosely packed. We're talking about 8 or 10 roses.
3 cups white caster (bakers) sugar
The juice of 1 lemon
2 and 1/2 cups of water
5 clean and sterilized small jelly sized canning jars

Here's What To Do: 
Make sure your rose petals are clean, so  gently rinse them with some water and let them dry.
Pull the petals off the roses and put them into a large bowl with 1 cup of the sugar and the lemon juice.

Here's the fun part. Massage those rose petals. You don't want to shred or tear them just mush them around in the sugar and lemon juice.

Sort of like finger painting with flowers...this is where the kids can come in. The roses will start to release their fragrance and a pinkish juice.  You want to massage them until they form a sort of paste and are all mushed down.
When that is done, place the other 2 cups of sugar into a sauce pan containing the water.

Mix this together well and then heat it on a medium flame.
Once the sugar has all dissolved into the water add your rose petals.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir it every now and then so nothing sticks or burns.

Let it boil until the rose petals have all sunk to the bottom of the pan and the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

This should take about 30 minutes more or less. The jam is going to be syrupy rather than totally jammy as fruit jam is, with lovely bits of rose petal in it.
Fill the clean hot jars with the hot jam.

Place lids on them.

Now, you can take your jelly and after it cools a bit, store it in the fridge...or process the sealed jars in a boiling water, canning bath as you would jam or jelly and store them in your pantry.

 This stuff is great on Shrikhand, or yogurt, or ice cream, or any bread, or whatever.  If you store it in the fridge and it is too firm just take the lid off and pop the open jar in the microwave for about 10 or 20 seconds to loosen it up, or in a shallow pan filled with warm water. Fragrant with jewel colors, this makes any brunch, breakfast, or dessert extra special. Coming up next some great seasonal Indian vegetarian dishes  follow along on Twitter @kathygori

To finish, I leave you with a bit of rose porn.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sweet, Spicy and Fragrant, Corn and Tamarind Curry.

   Today we started this year's planting for our garden. Actually lats week we put in the Yukon gold potatoes but this week we got down to the serious stuff, chilies of several varieties, 4 different types of eggplant, tomatoes, butternut squash, and beets. I'm still waiting on the radishes, spinach, purslane, and heirloom carrots. Hopefully we'll have as abundant a crop this year as we did last year when a simple investment in seeds and starters kept us well fed veggie-wise into the late Fall.  Right now, nothing is available in our garden except the nettles I recently harvested which will probably become some sort of pasta, so I'm always on the prowl for fresh produce. I lucked out the other day with some corn and decided that a simple corn and tamarind curry would make a great quick and easy lunch dish accompanied by a player yet to be named.
   As it turned out, I'd used my Ninja blender to grind rice and urad dal for dosa batter and I figured this might be the perfect opportunity to break in my newly seasoned cast iron tava. One thing led to another (mainly Alan wanted dosas) and before I knew it I was behind the kitchen island dishing out dosas stuffed with corn curry like some kind of indoor food truck. We didn't even bother with dishes... I served it all on paper plates and we ate standing up. It was that kind of day. So I thought that simple corn curry with tamarind was a real keeper. Dosas or not it's guaranteed to be a great  easy to make in a pinch dish and it's perfectly delicious even if not wrapped up in a dosa.

Corn and Tamarind Curry

Here's What You Need:
2 ears of  fresh corn
2 Tbs of tamarind paste (jars of this now seem to be found at most large supermarkets)
1 small onion finely chopped
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes ( I use Aleppo pepper)
2 Tbs vegetable oil. I use coconut oil
3/4 tsp salt or to taste
3 Tbs freshly chopped cilantro
A couple of grinds of black pepper

Here's What To Do:
Mix together the cumin seeds  and fenugreek seeds. Set them aside.
Finely chop  the onion

Remove the corn kernels from the cob and set them aside.

Dry roast the fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds in a pan until they start to release their aromas, and then grind them together with the red pepper flakes in spice or coffee grinder.

Grind everything to a coarse powder and set it aside.
In a skillet or kadhai, heat the vegetable oil.

When the oil is hot, add in the finely chopped onion.

Stir it around until it turns translucent and golden, then add in the corn.

Stir it around a bit and toss in the roast ground spices and salt.

Cook all of these together until the corn is cooked through. This takes about 5 minutes or so.
Add in the tamarind paste.

Stir it around until it's mixed in well and then keep stirring until it starts to cook down and glaze the corn and spices.
Add in the chopped fresh cilantro.

Cook for another couple of minutes.
Place it all in a serving dish, hit it with a few grinds of black pepper, and serve it up.

   Warm sweet, spicy and fragrant with simple spices, this is a great vegetable dish all on it's own with rice or another veg, served alongside meat or fish, or even wrapped up in a dosa or two... or three which is what we did.

Coming up next,  more spring vegetables take advantage of Indian flavors, and rose petal jam right out of the garden. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Monday, April 4, 2016

Take Advantage of A Spring Treat With This Fresh Chickpea Masala.

   I've cooked a lot of beans and lentils in my day. I've eaten even more beans, starting in childhood with one of the favorite foods of Italians, the ceci bean. I don't think my mother ever served a meal where ceci beans didn't figure in somehow. Stews, salads, whatever,  the ubiquitous can of cecis was always a kitchen staple. As I got older I discovered cecis don't have to automatically involve a can opener. They can be bought dry and soaked and cooked. Big news, mom wasn't interested. Then when I started cooking Indian food 26 years ago I started cooking  chole , (aka ceci beans, aka, garbanzos) and discovered that chole also involved a wonderful gluten-free flour known as Besan. I began to use Besan in all sorts of dishes from savories to desserts. I thought I knew all there was to know about garbanzo beans. Uh uh, as it turned out I had never discovered the world of fresh green chickpeas.
   About a year ago I noticed a bin of fresh green chickpeas at my local Whole Foods. I didn't buy any that day, figuring I'd come back in a few and pick some up. Big mistake. The next time I returned to the market, they were gone. I  couldn't seem to find them anywhere, not even at our local Farmers Market. Until last week that is. I was prowling the vegetable aisle one afternoon and there staring me in the face was a giant pile of fresh green garbanzos!!!! This time I didn't hesitate. I bought a pound. What was I going to make? I'd figure that out later. This time I wasn't going to miss out. As it turns out cooking fresh chickpeas is a pretty easy process. They're soft and they cook up in just a few minutes, they can even be skillet roasted in their pods like edamame, and eaten that way. I decided  however that I'd use mine for a Meatless Monday dish of chole masala.

Fresh Chickpea Masala

Here's What You Want: 
1 cup of shelled fresh chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon of finely minced fresh ginger
1 whole green serrano chili
1/2 Tbs of choppped fresh or canned  tomato
1/4 cu pof water
 1/4 cup of plain yogurt
handful of fresh curry leaves (if you don't have them, omit them)
1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp Kashmiri chili
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 and 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil, I use coconut oil
2 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped

Here's What To Do:
Shell the fresh garbanzo beans

It's very similar to shelling peas, but slower as only one bean resides in each pod. However, it's satisfying when completed.

Set the shelled beans aside.
Fill a 1/4 cup with water.
Mix together the Kashmiri chili, ground coriander, and turmeric and add them to the water.

Mix this together well and set it aside.
Heat the oil in a skillet or kadhai.
When the oil is hot add in the cumin seeds and mustard seeds.

When the cumin and mustard seeds start to sizzle and pop add in the whole green chili, ginger, tomato, and curry leaves. Stir  to mix well.

After these have sizzled for a minute or two add in the water and spice combo.

When the water and spices come to a boil, turn down the heat  to simmer and add in the yogurt.

Stir the yogurt into the mix well, to keep it from curdling.

When it's thoroughly blended in and no white is showing add in the chickpeas, salt, and garam masala.

Stir everything together well.

Put a lid on the pan.

Simmer everything until all the liquid evaporates and there is a thick gravy. This takes about 15 minutes or so. Check every now and then to make sure nothing is sticking or burning.
I went out to the garden and cut some fresh cilantro.

Chop about 3 Tbs of fresh cilantro and  sprinkle it over the finished dish and serve it up!

   This makes enough warm and spicy chickpea masala for two people. Serve it with some rice and chapatti, or another vegetable. I'm sorry I'd never found fresh chickpeas before, but now that I have, I'm definitely going back for more while they last! Coming up next, more fresh Spring recipes featuring Indian spices. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Fresh Spring Dish, An Indian Classic : Cauliflower and Potato

   Spring is one of my favorite times of year here in Sonoma.The Farmers Markets are filled with the delicacies one doesn't get the rest of the year and at our place, planning has begun for this year's crops. But first, the last of the Winter harvest needed to be brought in. My cauliflower came fashionably late. In fact, I didn't think I was going to get any cauliflower this year, but after the heavy rains we've had the last month...there they were! I waited for a break in the rain to go out and cut myself a beauty.

   Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables because there are so many ways one can prepare it that even the most die-hard cauliflower hater can find something they like. Because we've been pretty busy with launching The Chaunk I was looking for a very fast and easy recipe that would do the job for lunch. Good old Aloo Gobi to the rescue. I took my cauliflower and some fresh cilantro from my garden (it started raining again) ...

...and combined it with organic fresh peas (cheap and good this time of year) a few Yukon gold potatoes, and a red pepper.....Luncheon is served!

                               Cauliflower With Potatoes and Peas aka Aloo Gobi

Here's What You Need:
1 cauliflower
2 Tbs coconut oil or other vegetable oil
5 fresh green serrano chilies (I grow my own during the Summer then vacuum seal and freeze them for later use)
1 Tbs finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 cup of fresh peas, or frozen ones thawed
2 Yukon gold potatoes
1  red bell pepper finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 Tbs  coriander
1  tsp  cumin
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp amchur powder (dried mango)
1/4 tsp garam masala
3 Tbs water

Here's What To Do:
Shell your peas (if using fresh ones).

Chop the serrano chilies and set aside.

Peel and chop the ginger/

Add the cumin seeds to the chopped ginger and set them aside.

Mix the ground cumin, coriander and turmeric together in a small bowl and set them aside.

Wash and dry the cauliflower. Trim it and cut it into florets.

Place the cauliflower pieces into the bowl with the peas.
Wash and quarter the potatoes.

Place them in the bowl with the peas and cauliflower.

Chop the red bell pepper into small pieces  mix it with the cilantro and set it aside.

Heat your pan or kadhai over a medium/hot heat.
Add in the vegetable oil.

When the oil is hot toss in the chopped serrano chilies.

Stir them around for about 30 seconds or so until they sizzle, then add the cumin seeds and ginger. When that starts to sizzle, add in the coriander, cumin, and turmeric.

Stir everything around so the oil and spices are well mixed, then add in your cauliflower, potato, and pea mixture...

...along with 2 Tbs of water.

Cover the pan and stir fry everything over a high heat for about 3 minutes, then lower the heat to medium and let everything cook for about 20 minutes or so until the potatoes are soft. Check on things and stir once in a while so nothing burns or sticks. If you need to add another Tbs or so of water go ahead and do so.
When the potatoes have softened, add in the red bell pepper and cilantro...

...and the amchur powder.

Put the lid back on and cook for about 5 minutes.
After that time, take the lid off, give everything a good stir and place it in a serving dish.
Add the 1/4 tsp of garam masala, then stir everything again.

And serve it up!

  Spicy, delicious, and made with the freshest stuff one can get this time of year, Aloo Gobi is a great dish served just with rice and chapatti, or as the vegetable accompaniment to any Western style meat and veg dinner.
 For a how to kit to cook these and other delicious easy Indian dishes visit The Chaunk
Coming up next, taking advantage of Springtime produce bargains, follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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